{/(Jl/IE l) r 101 REYKJAVIK (18) 88 mins 0...

Smarting black comedy with a snow white background

Icelandic actor'»director Baltasar Kormakur makes his debut With th s bleak rind-Winter comedy, and he employs his country's climate to full advantage. Wind-swept and snow—bound with insomnra—inducing daylight. ReykiaVik is perfect turf for the cultivation of the most enduring Generation X

phenomenon. the slacker.

l'he slacker in question is Hlynur (Hilmir Snazr Gudnason), a tweritysomething who still lives at borne with his single mother. won't hold down a Job nor girlfriend. but does drink the long days away and surf the internet for pornography. But Hlynur gets the wake-up call of his life when he beds his mother's beautiful Spanish friend. Lola (Victoria Abril). only to

discover she's his mum's lesbian lover.

When the infidelity is revealed. the film becomes a comedy of unease. charting similarly gueasy territory as David 0. Russell (Spanking The Monkey) and the Farrelly brother‘s (There's Something About Mary). Here 107 Heyk/avrk verges on farce. which Kormakur wisely tempers with some

soulsearching drama: Hlynur realises it's his immaturity that's landed him in

such an emotionally~challenging predicament. a Situation only manageable if he adopts (literally as it turns out) some responsibility of his own.

l()l Revk/avik is a smarting black comedy vvrth a snow-white background.

and the pulsating score by Damon Albarn emphasises the film's cool credentials. But it's no cold-hearttxl drama. Here is a film that has universal appeal in its familiar protagonist. but which )uxtaposes its main elements (hot passion. cold climate) in a way that would only work in Kormakur's

home country. (Miles Fielder)

I GIT. Glt'rsgow; Cameo. Edinburgh from Fri l Jun. See feature. page 74.


SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS (18) 87 mins .00.

You WI” die. unless you can kill five other contenders first. You will be slaughtered if you cannot outwit them. for each one is hunting you. You are given a gun. pursued by a cameraman, monitored by global television systems and left to play the game. Alone. There is no chOice: you are fOrced to battle for the prize of life itself. And the odds are heaped up against you.

These are the rules of The Centenders. the hottest US reality TV show and fictional subject of writer-director Daniel Minahan's quite brilliant debut. Drawrng from his backgrOund in tabIOid dOCumentary. Minahan has created a gruesome satire on audience voyeurism that is as disturbingly familiar as it is comically absurd.

The film begins with series seven. The

reigning champion is Dawn (Brooke Smith).

Eight months pregnant. she has murdered ten opponents already and needs only five more. Tony. Connie. Lindsay. Franklin and Jeff are chosen. in a random lottery of

Reality TV parody

government ID numbers. to try their luck against her. There's also the question: can two college swexatheart contenders trust each other enough to Subvert the rules of this game?

In three parts. uSing teasers. flashbacks. interviews and v0iceovers. and a dramatic opening sequence. Minahan 'nas produced a feature film in the language of a television show. and it works. The idea is repulsive and yet the action is engrossing. Like Gladiators fOr the 21 st century. wrth their final showdown in a floodlit stadium. these killing machines leave both audiences dangling in suspense. (Heather Walmsleyi I Cameo. Edinburgh from Fr; 7 Jun.


t; t t AM THE TERRORIST (12) 95 mins 00..

Ler sex, inspired by the assassination ct forrrier lndian leader Rain Gandhi. Tr‘e Terrc's.’ is a striking filrr‘ from fizliéillC;1fl(:’l‘.gti()g)fétlilTOlrilll'TULl- illffxfllfl Santosh Scan. lvlalli iAyesha Dharkeri is a guerilla fighter. based in a training camp in an unnamed Jungle. .vho is selected by her commander to rarrj, out the suicide bombing of a ‘vIESIIlllg VIP. Journeying to the site of the attack. and haunted by meriiories of the death of a former lover. Mall: is beset by doubts about her mission The Terror/st (,loesn't concern itself with the rights and wrongs of the freedom fighters cause. instead it explores the internal world of his feriiale protagonist. who is photographed in tight close-ups that echo the style of Carl Dr'eyer or Andre Bresson. An almost wordless Dharker responds With a piece of exemplary screen acting. in which minute changes of expression subtly convey her character's fluctuating feelings. Despite its mrcrobudget, The

Elemental filmmaking

Terrorist is a visually ravishing. elemental film. evoking The Thin Red Line in its contrast between the transceridental beauty of nature and the suffering of humanity. And despite some slow—burning pacing, the climax is porgnantly suspenseful.

(Tom Dawson)

I Selected release from Fri 7 Jun. See prevrew, page 26.


If nothing else Agnas Jaoui's comedy may remind us that Britain doesn't have exclusive rights on the provincial class movie. where there's the sense that we're judging as much as watching. chuckling at rather than with the characters on show.

But here such a response seems a bit harsh. Where Like Un air de lamr/le (which Jaoui co-wrote) was theatrical minimalism, with characters defined less by where they are than on the tics they possess. Le gout is much more expansive, showing the workings of a small town beset by subtle demarcations. These are brought into focus when Jacques Castello (Jean-Pierre Bacri) falls for actress and English tutor Clara (Anne Alvaro). a bohemian looking for love but hardly expecting it from Bacri's crude factOry owner.

This isn't the only relationship we witness. There's also waitress Manie's (Jaoui) fling with Castella's bodyguard Moreno (Gerard Lanvrn) and a number of other sub-plots that shows Jaoui borrowing as readin from the mechanics of farce ( Le Diner de Cons) as the provrnCial comedy. The surprise is that they're combined to make for something more wistfully wrnning than either form usually offers.

(Tony McKibbin)

THRILLER CROUPIER (15) 94 mins .00.

Jack (Clive Owen) is a struggling writer in desperate financral straits. who on his father's recommendation, takes up a JOD in a central London casrno where he quickly proves himself to be an accomplished crOupier. But the work is soon taking a toll on his relationship wrth his store-detective girlfriend Marion (Gina McKee). and he finds himself assisting Jeni (Alex Kingston). a South African gambler who's apparently in debt to a gang of criminals . . .

A deserved re—issue (after being dumped by its distributor in the UK but scoring a hit in the US) for director Mike Hodges' taut, intelligent and darkly amusing drama. It combines cinematic flair and thematic Substance, unfolding in a dream-like. hall-of-mirrors world. peopled by con-artists. card-sharks. and inveterate liars. Propelled by Owen's impressiver watchful and poised central performance. and boasting a delicious Oedipal twist in its denouement. Group/er concerns itself wrth the random nature of all our lives. the risks we take in relationships. the gamble that is writing. and now like Marion, we can mistakenly fall in love with an image of a person. (Tom Dawson)

I Selected release from Fri 7 Jun. See prevrew, page 27.

Taut, intelligent, darkly amusing

24 May—7 Jun 2001 THE LIST 29